New Bel Ami Reviews from Yahoo Movies & Film4   10 comments

From Yahoo Movies

The film as a whole might feel lopsided, but thankfully the stellar performances keep you entertained.

Social-climbing, villainous backstabbing and a rapacious Robert Pattinson combine in this slow but well-crafted study of a desperate man in desperate times.

The hype…

All eyes are on Robert Pattinson as he tries to break away from his ‘Twilight’ character Edward Cullen. He’s had some success already, but the likes of ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Water for Elephants’ have hardly been classics. This is his darkest role to date, and it’s sure to test his appeal, especially as most of his fans can’t get into a 15-certificate film.

Read more after the jump!

The story…
Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) is a down-on-his-luck army veteran living an aimless life in 1890s Paris. A chance encounter with a man he served with in Algeria leads to a dinner at the home of the Forestiers, where beautiful socialite Mrs Forestier (Uma Thurman) advises Georges on the best way to climb the social ladder: it’s not the men of the city he needs to get to know, it’s their wives.

Soon Georges is enjoying romances with Clotide (Christina Ricci) and Madame Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas), and his career as a newspaper columnist takes off. When Mr Forestier falls gravely ill, Georges is on hand to comfort the soon-to-be widow, and in turn lines himself up for another fortune.

As Georges becomes consumed by jealousy and greed, he sets his sights on a younger target. Will that be enough to satisfy his desires? And how many people will be left behind in his wake?

The breakdown…
The film begins at a meandering pace where only occasional flourishes by the actors light up a dull and dreary tone in the movie. Debut directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod fail to add any drama in the early scenes, but once it hits its stride and George begins his manoeuvring up the food chain things rapidly improve – even if it feels somewhat rushed.

R-Pattz, as we believe the kids call him, is on fine form in this mature story about a man keen on using his charm and good looks to further his career as a journalist. Not that we’ve ever been guilty of anything like that, obviously, but this does give the actor a chance to show a more identifiable side as opposed to his glittering vampire from the ‘Twilight’ series.

Previous attempts have been so-so, not really challenging the star to any great extent. Here, though, there is no place to hide and Pattinson excels. He oozes charm, and also succeeds in showing us a devious side without turning into a caricature cad.

Ricci and Thurman get rare occasions to show off opposite the leading man, and all that is left for Kristin Scott Thomas by the time she appears is the thankless task of an older woman who is desperately in love with a younger man. That said, she is wonderful in her portrayal, and makes Madame Rousset one of the only characters we actually cared about.

The film as a whole might feel lopsided, but thankfully the stellar performances keep you entertained. It’s not quite the ‘Twilight’ bashing film that Pattinson needs to firmly establish himself away from that franchise, but a definite step in the right direction.

The verdict…
Things unfurl at a leisurely pace, but this does give us a chance to see Pattinson develop a distinctive character. His persona might be smug and dislikeable, but it does give credence to the acting ability of the star.

Rating: 3/5

‘Bel Ami’ is released nationwide on 9 March. Certificate: 15.


The term ‘filthy rich’ might be bandied about a lot, but in the nineteenth century it really meant something. The privileged classes were rotten with splendor and Guy de Maupassant’s novel of sexual scandal and political corruption, Bel Ami, captured the various – err – comings and goings through the tale of a young man who uses sex as a weapon. It’s fitting then that an adaptation has reared its head in a time when the eyes of the many are on the wealth of the few and it all seems relevant again, a century after the novel’s publication. Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod revel in bringing the decadence and debauchery to life and the film looks fantastic; muted pastel tones and elaborate, ornate sets bring fin-de-siecle Paris to life but it’s the film’s antihero star that really elevates the story above the usual bodice-ripping fare.

Robert Pattinson brings an air of menace to the character of Bel Ami, hungrily eyeing the women in his path and smearing Paris with his sleazy glances and threatening sexuality. He might be amoral and at times pretty loathsome but it’s to Pattinson’s credit that he keeps the smarm metered, exuding a scandalous charm that the ladies in his company swoon over. He’s sort of like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, only hornier. Added to the mix are a triad of winsome belles played by Christina Ricci (a young romantic), Uma Thurman (a politically ambitious firebrand) and Kristin Scott Thomas (an insecure housewife). In particular Ricci looks the part with her coquettish eyes and porcelain skin but it’s Scott Thomas who does an exemplary task of bringing the simpering naivety of Virginie to life. It is the way these four play together that ensures the film’s dark nature unfolds in an engaging way, paying due reverence to Maupassant’s source (although a slight tweak to its ending was a wise move).

But no matter how much the film seduces, it still smacks of directors who are holding back a little. Sex scenes are brief, fleeting and poorly edited despite an overall sensuality and there are moments of emotional tension that are prevented from lingering as long as they should. It’s never enough to really tarnish the whole but, given the source, there’s a little too much restraint. That said, the window into a society of sexually liberated (for their time) women and corrupt men, coupled with the playful way in which the directors tease out similarities with modern relationships all make for surprisingly good fun, despite the grim tone.

 A brooding tale of sex and scheming that is brought to life by its cast. More playful than you might expect, it’s still a deliciously dark period piece that stays true to the tone of the novel


10 responses to “New Bel Ami Reviews from Yahoo Movies & Film4

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  1. What does Certificate 15 mean?

  2. Pingback: New Bel Ami Review from Yahoo Movies

  3. I don’t know what certificate 15 means, guessing under 15 not allowed. Great review. Looking at the above picture, I don’t know about you but I don’t see Edward, just a brand new Georges character. Nothing to shed, only to add to his repertoire.

  4. Thank you, Sparks, that makes sense. These films he is in are usually not rated for young teens, yet teens are so obsessed that many will see it anyways, sad thing. My daughter is only 12 and I can’t let her watch these, not even the two last Twilights, she was barely 8 when they started out, too young.

    @gardenlilie, it definitely is another character and view of Rob, but of course that still up there is a battered up George, there are other beautiful pics of him in Bel Ami where we see a handsome and stunning Rob that very well reminds us of Edward Cullen 😉

  5. Pingback: New Bel Ami review from Film 4

  6. When are critics and insiders going to “get it”? Rob’s appeal and fan base far excedes teenage. Both men and women admire him, and those I’ve talked to agree that he’s got that old Hollywood star quality that fills up the screen …More so than all the other male leads today. We are just at the beginning of a huge career to come!

  7. Sorry, misspelled exceedes…..oops.

  8. @bibi, I’d be interested to know what “men” think about him, what do they like? 😉

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